Because Jesus reigns now, we have hope.
Gary Thomas talks about the crucial importance of the ascension in the third chapter of The Beautiful Fight. Spent this morning reflecting on his powerful words, so heavy on me that I can hardly type.
“Celebrating Christmas gives us faith . . . Celebrating Easter gives us assurance . . . Celebrating the ascension gives us hope and points us toward transformation; it affirms that we can become more and more like Jesus is right now.” 36
“Without the ascension, we might look around and forget that Christ is the ruling Lord of this fallen, broken world.” 36
“We serve the ascended and reigning Christ. The world may mock our King. We may disdain his rule by our own sinful rebellion–but the fact is, he reigns. And we can participate in the spread of his kingdom, in the Beautiful Fight, not simply by imitating how he lived on earth but by surrendering to his dynamic, life-transforming presence within us, by letting him change the way we see, think, feel, hear, speak, and serve. It’s the life of Christ in us, continuing his work, exercising his reign, manifesting his presence.” 37
“Without, Christ, we have no power to change. . . Christ isn’t buried in history; he is risen and ascended. ” He reigns, acts, speaks, guides, and is building his church. The ascension can help to keep us from smothering the supernatural and the mysterious elements of our faith, recapturing the dynamic reality of Christ manifesting himself through us.”
“Sadly, like the biblical Esau (see Genesis 25:29-34), we sometimes feel pridefully tempted to sell this amazing birthright of Christ’s presence for our own presence. We focus on our work, our influence and our ministry. One of the biggest threats to incarnational living is pride. Instead of manifesting Christ’s presence, we want to showcase our own presence; instead of dispensing Christ’s truth, we want to spotlight our own opinions; instead of adopting Christ’s agenda, we want to accomplish our own five-or ten-year plans; instead of building Christ’s kingdom, we want to spread our own ‘ministry’.” 38
“Because Jesus reigns now, we have hope. Even though my eyes are weak and greedy and judgmental and lustful, there stands Christ, with eyes filled with burning purity, holy passion, and self-less love. Even though I sometimes speak with a hurtful tongue or blurt our unkind comments, there is Christ, with his healing tongue in perfect control. And here is where it gets really good. Jesus is not simply watching me, asking me to imitate him; on the contrary, he has released, is releasing and will release his Holy Spirit to help me see and talk just as he does. He will live through me. 43
“Let us discard the pride, the preening, the bloated arrogance of our opinions. Let us shun the small lives of desperate people who try to make themselves large through frenetic activity and modern gimmicks. Let us quiet our hearts long enough to experience the restful, amazingly powerful, and compellingly pure passion of Jesus, and changing what we see, tuning us in to what must really be heard, and helping us to feel what God himself feels. This is real human experience, exalted by divine impact, it is our birthright through the ascension–a sacred truth we need to hold dear. ” 44